The Confederation of Multidisciplinary Automaton Scholars 1997 Conference
Port St. Lucie, Florida
Strand B: Philosophy and Human Identity
11:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Paisley Wallpaper Room
DIGITAL MEAT/TANGIBLE BYTES: The Writer as Simulation
A. Owsley (Mind Institute on Telegraph, Berkeley)
Abstract: The difference between God's machines and man's machines, with apologies to Aquinas and Descartes, is the presence (or absence) of reason, language, and a comical amount of body hair. Both Jaquet-Droz's 18th-century automatonThe Writer, who could accurately produce 40-character sequences of the Roman alphabet with both eyes closed, and the 20th-century NarghileNubian Hookah Smoker Automaton, who can sip tea and play music while blowing smoke rings from a hookah, pose vexing semantic dilemmas for a grand narrative whose project is ostensibly to distinguish a forgery from the original Rosellini mechanical pig in both meat and digital worlds. Like the Abraham Lincoln robot in a virtual Baudrillardian Disneyland-on-drugs, The Writer is a simulation of a simulacrum (defined by Plato as the copy for which there is no original), and in meat space the Prime Mover is nowhere to be found. Nowhere to be found! Damn. Where was I.